Read An Excerpt From Let Us Prey By Jamie Lee Scott
When you work as a private detective, there are two things that are certain; you’ll be bored nearly to death by a long stakeout, and you’ll have to pee at some time during that stakeout. I was approaching the “have to pee” stage when my cell phone rang.
“Speak to me.”
“Nice, very professional,” Charles said.
“I try. What’s up?”
“I’ve got Jackie coming to relieve you. I have sort of an emergency at the office. The client is on her way now.” There was an undertone to Charles’s voice that put me on alert.
Before I could respond he hung up.
I’m Mimi Capurro, and I own Gotcha Detective Agency. We’re a fledgling agency on the Central Coast of California. I’m a former Secret Service agent. I left the job to start a family with my husband, Dominic, but the family plans hit a major road block when Dominic died in a plane crash a year after we married. Gotcha is my way of trying to move on, and I’ve put all of my time and energy into growing the business. Some days are easier than others.
Charles Parks is my right-hand man. He’s from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. I met him while I was protecting a former first lady. Charles is not only one of my best friends, but he’s a genius with computers, business, and defense.
Jackie Baccarin, who was coming to relieve me, was my best friend. Normally I would never recommend going into business with friends, but these were friends with talent. Jackie could pee in a freaking coffee can without ever leaving her stakeout post. Now that’s talent. And like me, she needed an outlet. She’d lost her husband too. Only she’d killed hers. Not literally, it’s just that as far as she was concerned, he was dead.
I saw Jackie’s car come around the corner, so I fired up my 1982 Toyota pickup and headed out. Gotcha has a fleet of cars for different occasions. Since my Land Rover would have stood out like a purple cow in this neighborhood I had the Toyota. And by fleet of cars, I mean we had our personal cars and three that belonged to the company. Thank God for people who trade in their junker cars and the auctioneers who sell them. All three cars cost $1,500, total.
Some P.I. agencies specialize and only do insurance work, or track down deadbeat dads. Gotcha isn’t picky; we’re a fledgling company and can’t afford to be picky about the cases we take. Since I have a specialized background in the Secret Service, we also provide bodyguards, or professional protection.
I drove around the back of the Victorian house that had been converted into offices, and parked in the backyard/parking lot. This house had belonged to Dominic when he ran his produce brokerage company. It was while doing business for that company that he was killed.
Every time I opened the kitchen door I swore I could smell the Blue Mountain coffee he was so fond of. But that label hasn’t been brewed in the house since I took over, so I know it’s just a memory. I feel the glitch in my heart to this day, and it’s been more than two years since his plane went down.
I thought I could sneak into my office and do a quick clean up and pee, before my client arrived.
Yeah, that didn’t happen as my new clients were sitting in my office when I walked in. I’m not big on surprises, so I shot Charles a look that told him as much.
Charles, who’d been sitting at my desk, casually rose to his feet when I entered the room. “And this is Mimi.”
The ladies looked in my direction just as I was adjusting my face from a scowl to a smile. I walked forward and shook hands with both women.
The older woman looked to be in her forties. She had large brown eyes like topaz gems and wavy, medium-length hair the color of rich cream. She stood tall with a muscular build. Her skin was tanned, which clashed with her gray suit. I shook her hand first.
She took my hand in a firm grip. “I’m Lauren Silke.”
I’m pretty sure I had a fan-girl moment, but I did my best to hide it. I was shaking hands with the New York Times bestselling author of the Sophie Nolan vampire series. I had every book in the series. Well, I didn’t have the latest, but as soon as it hit bookstores I would.
“Wow, I’m a big fan.” I just had to say it.
“Thank you.” Lauren indicated the waif standing beside her. “This is my assistant, Esme Bailey.”
I turned to the girl with the large sapphire eyes. Her fine, straight, black hair was worn in a precise bob. She was tall and thin and a shade too pale. Her hollow cheeks and thin red lips made her look even thinner. I had to envy her style with her black thigh high boots and mini skirt.
Esme gave me an overenthusiastic handshake.
“Oh, thank you so much for meeting us at the last minute. Charles has been such a doll in your absence. And he assures us that taking us as a client will be no imposition. I’m so sorry for the last-minute meeting.”
Was this girl on crack? Her movements were steady and fluid, but she spoke so fast I could hardly keep up. And when she said Charles had assured them I’d take the case, the words really began to blur as my mind whirled.
I glared at Charles again.
“Well, ladies, now that you’ve met, I’ll just go grab you some coffee and cookies.” Charles nearly ran from the room.
Charles, a fop if ever there was one, wore creased khaki slacks and a lavender polo shirt. I could see the lavender in his argyle socks as he left the room.
I’m pretty sure my Doberman, Lola, heard Charles say cookies because she stood from her bed in the corner of my office, performed a downward dog, and trotted to the kitchen. She didn’t even acknowledge me.
I went around my desk and sat. “Okay, so exactly what is it I’m taking on here?”
Lauren settled back in her chair, and as she did I noticed something a little off about her coloring. I couldn’t quite place it.
Esme sat forward on her chair, her long legs twisted like spaghetti noodles. She seemed anxious.
“Okay, so you know who Lauren is?”
I smiled. “I do.”
“Oh, good, that will make this faster. So you know about Sophie and the vampires. Well, then, um, you also know that in the last book, Lauren killed off a long-running character. I mean she had to, there were just getting to be too many characters to keep track of. But I digress.
“Okay, apparently some of her loyal fans aren’t thrilled with the story line lately. And this last weekend Lauren was speaking at a paranormal writers conference—”
“I was on a panel. Not really speaking. My presence was considered to be a great draw for some reason.”
“And, long story short, she got the shit beat out of her in the bathroom. By a lady claiming to be her fan of all things.” Esme was wide eyed, and now nearly tipping off the chair.
Lauren glared at Esme but said nothing.
That was it. The makeup on Lauren’s face was thick. Very thick because it was covering bruising. And when I looked close I could see just a bit of red on her eyeball.
“Oh my God. How on earth did that happen?”
Now Lauren sat forward in her chair. “I went to the bathroom, and this lady apparently followed me in. We were the only two in the bathroom, and I didn’t think anything of it. I mean why would I?”
Esme interrupted. “And the woman waited until Lauren was in the stall and had her pants half down, then she kicked in the stall door.”
“Did you have any idea who she was?”
“Not a clue,” Lauren said.
“Anyway, she knocked Lauren out cold.”
I leaned forward. “Holy shit.”
Lauren laughed. “That’s exactly what I thought when I came to. But the woman was gone. I vaguely remember her saying she was pissed off about something, but I can’t for the life of me remember what she said.”
“Did anyone find the woman, or walk in while this was happening?”
Blushing now, Lauren said, “No, a woman did come in moments later and found me on the floor with my pants down. God it was humiliating.”
Esme laughed. “But good publicity.”
“Huh, I didn’t read about it.” Then I wondered where I would possibly have read about something like this happening.
“The conference was in Seattle. It was in their paper.” Esme reached into her Coach briefcase and handed me a clipping of the article.
I glanced at it and put it on my desk. “So how do I fit into this?”
“Lauren’s book tour for Prey starts tonight. Yeah, tonight. And she needs a bodyguard.”
“Tonight?” What the hell did Charles get me into?
Right on cue, Charles reentered the office with a tray of coffee and snacks. He placed it on the table between the two women.
“I wasn’t sure what you liked, so I made plain black coffee, but there are several creamers.” He pointed at a plate on the tray. “And we have hazelnut, orange, and mocha biscotti.”
“So Charles, you are going to provide Ms. Silke with executive protection tonight?”
Esme was giddy. “Oh Charles, really?”
“Not me. I’ve cleared your schedule, so you’ll be available to travel to San Francisco with Lauren tonight.”
I stood. It took everything I had to not reach across the desk and grab Charles by the collar and yank him toward me. I took a deep breath before I spoke. Being a small, new business, we needed the clientele, but I felt like Charles had manipulated me. Wouldn’t be the first time. Or the last.
“Fine. I’d be happy to accompany you tonight. I’m sure Charles told you about our fees?”
Esme regurgitated what Charles had quoted in my absence and I nearly choked. The quote was nearly three times our normal fee.
I coughed, then said, “And this works for you?”
Lauren said, “If we can schedule you for the week, we can double the fee.”
“Well, Lauren has five engagements this week. And with the attack at the conference and the flurry of negative and nasty comments on Facebook, Twitter and her blog, we think it’s best she has someone watching her back so she can give the proper attention to her fans.”
“Do you have the itinerary for this entire week?”
“I don’t have it on me. I have to call Lauren’s publicist this afternoon to get the details on times, flights, and all that. We weren’t sure we were going to honor the tour dates if we couldn’t get a bodyguard.”
Esme reached back into her briefcase and handed me a hardcover book.
I looked at the stunningly erotic cover of Prey. When I opened the cover I saw it was autographed already.
Esme smiled. “No problem. This is going be a great week.”
Neither Lauren nor Esme touched the coffee and biscotti. And I immediately started preparing for the job ahead, having no idea what I was getting myself into.
Synopsis: Mimi Capurro has been hired to protect New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Silke, who was recently assaulted in the bathroom at a paranormal conference. Though Mimi is hired to act as bodyguard for Lauren’s upcoming book tour, plans change when Lauren’s assistant is murdered and the slaying is a replica of a scene from Lauren’s newest novel. A novel that hit bookstores the same day as the killing.
Now instead of playing bodyguard, Mimi is cracking computer code, and chasing down vampires. These vampires come alive on the streets of Santa Cruz, as part of a live-role-playing game. Mimi must find the connection between the vampires and the author to track down the killer. This would be much easier if Detective Nick Christianson wanted her investigating the case.
Nick, Mimi’s old college fling, is the lead homicide investigator.
Though he wants her off the case, he also wants to pump her for information. Nick may have used her in the past, but this time she’ll use him to try to catch the murderer first.
About The Author:
Jamie was born on the Central Coast of California, where she spent her entire childhood entertaining. She wrote plays and charged admission to her backyard stage so her friends and family could enjoy the performances. She wrote her first novel at the age of 10, for her 5th grade class project. The novel was called Cindy.
Busy with horses and school, Jamie rarely wrote through her teens and twenties, she was living a life most dreamed of (well, she dreamed of anyway), competing at barrel races, hanging out with cowboys, and traveling in rodeo circles with her friends. Money was tight, but life was good. Then Jamie met the man of her dreams. And low and behold he was not a cowboy, but a farm boy. They married and he swept her away to her little piece of heaven in Iowa.
Well, then Iowa didn’t turn out to be such heaven, Jamie again turned to fiction. This time she wrote to relieve the stress of living so far from her family, and from running a business with her husband. Funny how she now found it cathartic to kill people, only on paper of course.
Before she finished her first full length novel, Jamie was contracted to write the book, Hiking Iowa for Falcon publishing. In a year, she hiked 75 trails in the state of Iowa and mapped the trails, landmarks and distances. And this was before GPS. It was tough work for the measly advance, but it was a writing credit. So now, Jamie writes the mystery series featuring the Gotcha Detective Agency.
Jamie has written three novels, Let Us Prey, the soon to be released Death of a Sales Rep, and Give a Dog a Bone. She is currently writing screenplays. She is co-founder of Scriptchat on Twitter www.scriptchat.com & TWWriterChat www.tvwriterchat.com, and is the former president of RWA’s screenwriting chapter, Script Scene.
Jamie still lives in Iowa (though she visits California as often as possible) with her husband, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 2 horses. She writes with a few from her 6 acre farm.
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